The Slice

Examples of Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Work Communication

May 26, 2023

Though asynchronous communication can allow a distributed workforce to reduce distractions, decrease back-and-forth, and maximize their time, there's still an essential place for synchronous communication in the modern office. Let's take a look at what you need to know about these two primary methods of sharing information, along with some examples.

Receiving an email at midnight used to signal an emergency at the office, but these days, it's par for the course. As remote work becomes more common and businesses increasingly embrace global teams across time zones, asynchronous communication has become a necessity.

While synchronous communication– interacting in real-time, rather in person or virtually– is still an important part of any business, asynchronous communication provides opportunities for teams made up of people across the globe to be more efficient, productive, and focused.

Whether you know it or not, you've likely been using some forms of asynchronous communication in your office. If you've ever sent an email, texted, or shared a Google doc, you've participated in this phenomenon.

Though asynchronous communication can allow a distributed workforce to reduce distractions, decrease back-and-forth, and maximize their time, there's still an essential place for synchronous communication in the modern office. Let's take a look at what you need to know about these two primary methods of sharing information, along with some examples.

What Is Synchronous Communication?

Synchronous communication is exactly what it sounds like– communication that occurs between two or more parties at the same time.

Essentially, this is when you are exchanging messages or information with another person that is there to receive your communication and respond, whether in real life or virtually.

The Benefits of Synchronous Communication

Sharing and receiving feedback about ideas in real-time has plenty of benefits.

Some of the advantages of communicating with people that are active participants in the conversation at the same time include:

  • Allowing you to come up with solutions to problems that need immediate attention

  • Allowing for important issues to be resolved quickly

  • Creating an opportunity for teams to build and improve a sense of community, rapport, and cohesiveness

  • Reducing delays in productivity

  • Allowing for complex interactions containing a great deal of detail

Examples of Synchronous Communication

Some examples of synchronous communication include:

  • In-person meetings

  • In-person conversations outside of meetings

  • Phone calls

  • Letters

  • Live chat sessions

  • Video conference meetings (i.e., via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Slack, etc.)

  • Messaging platforms

Though many tasks can be managed asynchronously, it's important not to rely on this method too heavily. Many components go into making a healthy and productive workplace, and allowing your team the opportunity to interact with one another and get to know each other is essential. This should be of particular concern when you manage a virtual team, as loneliness and isolation can easily set in when employees don't have a strong sense of community with their teammates.

If you end up deciding to transition some of your communications to asynchronous methods, you'll likely find that you have extra time in the schedule to give your team a chance to spend time together virtually. Whether you use this opportunity to organize team building activities like a virtual escape room or a mini-games triathlon or you decide to throw everyone a pizza party and virtual happy hour, consider turning your synchronous communications into memorable experiences that boost morale, increase engagement, and help build a sense of community and camaraderie.

What Is Asynchronous Communication?

Asynchronous communication occurs when there is a delay between a message being sent and it being seen/read/heard by the recipient.

How long the delay lasts depends on a number of factors, including the communication method, time zone differences, the schedule of the recipient, the urgency of the message, and so on.

The Benefits of Asynchronous Communication

Though synchronous communication can be appropriate in some circumstances, at other times, it is unnecessary to disrupt the receiver's workflow with a message that doesn't require urgent attention.

As you likely know from experience, it's all too easy to be pulled away from your work due to a phone call or other form of synchronous communication that didn't need to happen right then. When you picture this type of occurrence happening all over your organization every day, it becomes clear that this can create unnecessary disruptions and slow-downs in productivity.

If you don't already incorporate asynchronous communication methods, you'll likely be intrigued by the many benefits, including:

  • Helping to optimize team performance, focus, and productivity

  • Allowing team members in different locations and time zones to communicate

  • Enabling team members to provide a well-researched and thorough response to messages they receive

  • Creating a detailed record of all of the correspondences that occur within a team, between departments, and with customers

  • Allowing the space to explain complicated problems that might demand further research or discussion

Just because asynchronous communication is useful as a part of your team's operations, it doesn't mean you should eliminate team meetings altogether. If you're struggling to figure out when to schedule meetings to ensure that you get as much done as possible, check out our recent post about the best time of day for remote meetings.

Examples of Asynchronous Communication

Some examples of asynchronous communication that you likely utilize in your workplace include:

  • Emails

  • Text messages

  • Instant messaging

  • Shared file comments or collaboration

  • Project management software

  • Video messages

As you begin to incorporate asynchronous communication into your workflow more and more, you'll start to fine-tune your sense of which tasks and messages are suitable to be sent without the expectation of an immediate response.

At the same time, you don't want to lean too heavily on asynchronous communication as it can leave your team feeling disconnected and out of touch with one another. To help make the most of your synchronous meetings and ensure that your team is growing ever stronger and healthier, check out our guides to using 5-minute games in meetings, reducing awkwardness in video meetings, and tips for running better remote meetings.

The Main Differences Between Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication


Asynchronous communication is a keystone of virtual teams– the reality is there's a good chance that your team members tend to work at different hours of the day and keep different schedules. Whether half of your team are morning birds and the other half are night owls, or your team is composed of rock stars from all over the globe, scheduling times to engage in synchronous communication gets difficult quickly when everyone is working from home.

Of course, this doesn't mean that asynchronous communication should completely replace synchronous communication. There are always going to be issues, topics, and projects that require that everyone has their head in the game at the same time. Plus, holding virtual meetings is an important way to help create a cohesive team culture and ensure everyone is on the same page.

That being said, there are a lot of communications that occur in the workplace that might be better sent asynchronously. Not only does this allow the recipient the ability to engage with the message using their full attention, but it also gives them the chance to construct a well-thought-out response. This can ultimately reduce back-and-forth and decrease disruptions on both ends throughout the work day.

Delivery Time

If your team is sprinkled across various time zones around the world, you probably know just how hard it is to find a time that works for everyone for a phone call, virtual meeting, or another form of synchronous communication.

When most of your non-urgent messages are sent asynchronously, it takes out the logistical puzzle of communication within a global team. You can send a message at noon in NYC to your coworker in Chiang Mai and know that they'll probably see it when they log in to start working the next day. You no longer have to fret about calling someone after hours or waking them up in the middle of the night– you can simply initiate communication when you have something to say and trust that the recipient will get back to you at a time that is reasonable for them.

Response Time

Of course, some issues require immediate attention in the workplace. If you need a response about something immediately, asynchronous communication will probably leave you pacing the room and frustrated.

You may receive a response quickly when you send an asynchronous communication, such as a text or an email. You can even express just how urgent the message is, which might press the other person to respond quickly if they do see the message.

There isn't any certainty that you'll receive an immediate response, though. Sometimes, you need an immediate response, and this is when synchronous communication is much more useful. Whether it's a phone call or a video conference call, you can get feedback and responses in real-time, so long as you can get the other person or people on the line.

With asynchronous communication, there isn't usually an expectation of immediate replies from the recipient.

Discussion Length

When you have a topic that needs to be discussed extensively, synchronous communication might be the better choice. Whether planning out a new project or trying to resolve an issue, you might find that having a back-and-forth in real-time is the only way to make progress.

On the other hand, asynchronous communication often includes precise and comprehensive language. A number of vital pieces of info might be included in one single message, and the receiver can take their time (within reason, of course) to devise a response full of their feedback, ideas, or thoughts on the matter.

How to Choose Between Synchronous and Asynchronous Communication

Pretty much all workplaces are going to benefit from using both synchronous and asynchronous communication as a part of their day-to-day operations.

Some tasks are much better suited to one form of communication over the other, and it's useful to create a system of communication so that you and your team don't have to decide on the best communication method each and every time you need to work together.

Your Team's Structure

If your team all works on the same schedule and are bound by the same deadlines, you might find that leaning on the side of synchronous communication is fine for you.

On the other hand, if everyone has their own schedule and works on projects with different deadlines, asynchronous communication might become a much more important part of your communication system.

Response Time

One of the questions you'll want to ask yourself when determining whether asynchronous or synchronous communication is more appropriate for a specific message is what type of response time you are looking for.

If you need to hear back right away because you're waiting on some info or feedback, one form of synchronous communication is going to be the way to go. On the other hand, if you're just trying to share some info that doesn't need to be urgently received by the other person and doesn't necessarily require a response, asynchronous communication will do just fine and save everyone time.

Your Team's Size

Asynchronous communication is useful in almost every workplace, but it becomes essential as teams get larger. The more people involved, the less likely they'll all be able to find an open timeslot in common to have a conference call or video meeting. This gets even more complicated once you start talking about having employees in different time zones.

On the other hand, if your team is small and largely works the same schedule, synchronous communication becomes much more practical and could be simpler much of the time.

Complexity of Communication

Different types of information are better suited to these two types of communication methods. For example, asynchronous communication is likely fine for the task if you're just sharing information, providing an opportunity for non-urgent team feedback, or running routine checks.

If you need to discuss a complex project, make important decisions immediately, or communicate about an issue that involves your team members, synchronous communication will probably be more appropriate.

Want to Take Your Synchronous Communication to the Next Level?

Asynchronous communication can be a big help in increasing efficiency and productivity among remote teams, but it should never fully take the place of regular meetings and get-togethers that allow your team to interact with each other in real-time. Allowing your team the chance to get to know their teammates and build relationships is essential, both for their morale and engagement as well as for productivity, trust, and efficiency.

Providing opportunities for everyone to talk– whether about business or not– helps provide aspects of the social experience of employment that can be missing from working from home.

If you're searching for ways to increase a sense of community, a sense of common purpose, and morale among your team, you've come to the right place. Whether you want to cater a special event for your team or treat them to a shared virtual experience, PizzaTime is always here to help!

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